The Government is investing around $6 billion this year to support people undertaking vocational education and training (VET), including more than 300,000 apprentices.

Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, said Ms Bird and
her Labor colleagues had got it wrong accusing the Abbott Government of squibbing young apprentices. 

“At the same time as the Labor Government was failing to ensure the apprenticeship incentive system worked, it cut more than one billion dollars from apprenticeships between the 2011-12 Budget and the 2013 Federal Election, including millions of dollars in incentives taken out overnight on the eve of the election,” Senator Birmingham said.

“In the 12 months after Labor discontinued the $1500 standard employer commencement
incentive for existing worker apprentice and trainees in non-National Skills Needs List occupations, apprentice and trainee commencements halved from 126,200 in the June 2012 before the cut, to 61,600 in the June quarter after the cut. The number of apprentices and trainees in training dropped by more than 100,000 over the same period.

“In contrast our Government is supporting apprentices and their employers by:

  • Cutting the small business company tax rate to the lowest in almost 50 years and for two years, giving all small businesses an immediate tax deduction on any asset they buy costing up to $20,000.  This will benefit more than 95% of all Australian businesses, including the many small businesses and tradespeople who employ an apprentice; 
  • Providing up to $200 million a year for the new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to provide more help to employers, particularly small business employers, to recruit, train and retain apprentices; 
  • Abolishing Labor’s secret plan to make employers responsible for the administration of apprenticeships – a plan that would have added $46 million in red tape costs to businesses every year;
  • Supporting more than 24,000 apprentices with the costs of living through Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000, with the greatest support available in the early years when apprenticeship wages are lowest; and 
  • Providing financial support to almost 80,000 employers this year to help with the costs of employing an apprentice through the Australian Apprenticeship Incentives Program.

“Bill Shorten’s recent budget reply demonstrated Labor’s continued university-centric approach, completely ignoring vocational education and training.  

“Our ambition is to empower small businesses to invest, grow and generate jobs. An apprenticeship is a proven earning and learning pathway to a rewarding career, and provides vital skills to boost Australia’s economic growth, competitiveness and productivity,” Senator Birmingham said.